In a video released to mark the Super Bowl, US President Joe Biden criticized major food companies for practicing “shrinkflation,” the practice of making products smaller while keeping prices the same. Biden accused big consumer brands of ripping off the American public and attempting to deceive consumers by gradually reducing the size of products in hopes that they wouldn’t notice. While not naming specific products or companies, Biden called out items like Gatorade, Breyers ice-cream, Tostitos and Doritos crisps, and Oreo cookies as examples of this practice.
The president’s remarks come at a time when the US is experiencing significant inflation, with the consumer price index rising above 8% in 2022. Economists believe this inflation is due to a variety of factors, including monetary policy stimulus in response to the Covid pandemic, rising global energy prices due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and heavy government spending. In December, inflation dropped to 3.1%, but some companies responded to rising costs by marginally reducing the size of products and changing recipes to reduce the amount of more expensive ingredients.
PepsiCo, Mondelēz, and Unilever, some of the world’s largest food companies, were approached for comment following Biden’s remarks. The president’s criticism comes at a time when many are already feeling the effects of inflation, and his message is likely to fuel a growing public concern over the issue of shrinkflation in consumer products.